Ericsson Pulls WiMax Plug

Networking giant Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) is pulling the plug on its development of WiMax to concentrate on upgrading the 3G cellular technology it favors for broadband speeds.

The company confirmed on Thursday afternoon that it stopped internal WiMax development efforts at the end of last year and is instead relying on a reseller strategy for the technology. "Right now, we don't work on a WiMax system," says Mikael Persson, manager of strategy and business development for WCDMA at Ericsson. "We've invested in the basic research, but we don't see the point in taking that final investment to prepare factories... because we don't see the volumes in the market."

He says Ericsson will continue to resell Airspan WiMax equipment.

"We want to focus our resources where we'll get the most bang for our buck. And right now, there's no bang at all putting it into WiMax," says Persson.

"HSPA is where the market is happening right now. I'm really puzzled by this. I don't understand how this market [WiMax] will survive."

Ericsson's worst nightmare is that big operators will decide to go for mobile WiMax instead of waiting for long-term evolution (LTE) to develop, which is the next technology upgrade. In fact, Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) CEO Arun Sarin issued a barely disguised threat to this effect at the 3GSM conference in Barcelona in February. Sarin expressed frustration at the slow pace of mobile technology development, saying that if LTE progressed more quickly, there would be no need to deploy WiMax. (See 3GSM: Mobile's Fear Factor.)

"We have to speed up LTE development," admits the Ericsson man.

By relieving itself of any WiMax research and development, Ericsson will now focus on LTE for 4G. The vendor claimed to have the world's first LTE demonstration at the 3GSM show. (See Ericsson Demos at 3GSM.)

Ericsson was skeptical of WiMax from the start and concerned that it might cannibalize its core WCDMA business. It was the last major vendor to join the WiMAX Forum , in December 2004. It is still listed as a principal member on the Forum's Website.

At that time, Ericsson positioned WiMax as a complement to DSL for wireline operators and was determined to keep the new wireless technology at arm's length from its core WCDMA mobile business. The vendor told Unstrung then that it did not see WiMax as a mobility solution. (See Ericsson Cool on WiMax, Ericsson Hovers on WiMax, and Ericsson Joins WiMax Forum.)

As of June last year, Ericsson was still not committing to mobile WiMax, unlike many of its peers, including Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), Nortel Networks Ltd. , Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Samsung Corp. . The vendor said its WiMax development would focus on "fixed-nomadic-portable" applications based on OFDMA in the 3.5GHz frequency band.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading, and Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

somedumbPM 12/5/2012 | 3:11:41 PM
re: Ericsson Pulls WiMax Plug For campus enterprise environments this tech is a good fit - IMO. But........

I just do not think all of the large cities that want to build, manage, and maintain a municipal wireless network (for free internet to the peoples and/or local govt use) have a clue what reality is.

Guess what! You already have a citywide wireless network and it took a long time, money, and engineering to get to where it is today. Get a EVDO card deal and call it done next week or spend $xxx million dollars over 3-5 years and then start thinking about how you should do security, support, replacements with the money you have left when you have none coming in. Hardware replacements on 40-60 thousand nodes should pose no problem.

You need faster than EVDO x years from now when your network will be up. Guess what the wireless companies will beat you there, they have beaten you now.

You need reliability, get the occasional hurricane or tornado, forget wireless and grab some fiber.

Sorry guys I have had to sit through too many of these WiMax presentations and I needed to vent - hehe.
Mark van der Hoek 12/5/2012 | 3:11:40 PM
re: Ericsson Pulls WiMax Plug Agreed. Especially the part about having no clue about reality. If they really want all this "free" access to solve the non-existant "digital divide", they'd do better to simply stop impeding the existing wireless carriers as they TRY to build out their networks in the face of radical NIMBYism. Put those millions into subsidizing service for those poor people who need high speed Internet access for their non-existent computers. I mean, it's beyond question that high speed acess to IM and porn is a basic human right!
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:11:39 PM
re: Ericsson Pulls WiMax Plug I mean, it's beyond question that high speed acess to IM and porn is a basic human right!

But you get the right to tell people what they can have access to?

Many people, rich and poor, use the internet for more than porn and IM. For example, it's fairly obvious that the media is moving to distribution via the internet. Our society is built on a free press. Take that away and what do we end up with?

I guess poor people need not apply for citizenship to a democratic society. Maybe they aren't persons and have no rights under the constitution? Makes it nice and tidy when we choose to deny access to democratic foundations by claiming all people do is surf porn. Seven uses this rationalization too. Helps to sleep better at night I guess.

Some food for thought.


"In developed countries, freedom of the press implies that *all* people should have the right to express themselves in writing or in any other way of expression of personal opinion or creativity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights indicates: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through *any media* regardless of frontiers"

The media as a Necessity for the Government.

The notion of the press as the fourth branch of government is sometimes used to compare the press (or media) with Montesquieu's three branches of government, namely an addition to the legislative, the executive and the judiciary branches. Edmund Burke is quoted to have said: "Three Estates in Parliament; but in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth estate more important far than they all."

The development of the Western media tradition is rather parallel to the development of democracy in Europe and the United States. On the ideological level, the first advocates of freedom of the press were the liberal thinkers of the 18th and 19th centuries. They developed their ideas in opposition to the monarchist tradition in general and the divine right of kings in particular. These liberal theorists argued that freedom of press was a right claimed by the individual and grounded in natural law. Thus, freedom of the press was an integral part of the individual rights promoted by liberal ideology.

Freedom of the press was (and still is) assumed by many to be a necessity to any democratic society . Other lines of thought later argued in favor of freedom of the press without relying on the controversial issue of natural law; for instance, freedom of expression began to be regarded as an essential component of the social contract (the agreement between a state and its people regarding the rights and duties that each should have to the other)."
trzwuip 12/5/2012 | 3:11:37 PM
re: Ericsson Pulls WiMax Plug Many people, rich and poor, use the internet for more than porn and IM.

Absolutely. You have video games, stock quotes, sports scores, online poker, pirated movies, etc. The very fabric of society depends on high-speed internet access!
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:11:36 PM
re: Ericsson Pulls WiMax Plug Absolutely. You have video games, stock quotes, sports scores, online poker, pirated movies, etc. The very fabric of society depends on high-speed internet access!

So you're proposing we advance society by denying people access to modern communications networks? Sounds like a great plan the Burmese would follow.
jepovic 12/5/2012 | 3:11:30 PM
re: Ericsson Pulls WiMax Plug I couldn't agree more. Wimax as a mass market service is DOA.

Wimax has been driven by Intel, as an attempt from them to get into wireless. Frankly, what do they know about wireless networks? They decided to get rid of all the "complicated" stuff from WCDMA/ CDMA 2000. Great, but how will you have a manageable network? Those things were often put in there by request of wireless operators, for good reasons.

I only see one good niche for Wimax: Fixed wireless access in areas without broadband access. For instance in countries without an existing copper access network. That's not a small or bad market, globally. In developed countries, that will be a very small market.

Mobile Wimax is hopeless. It's already behind the WCDMA development, and the gap is increasing. Where are the terminals? Customers expect ten new terminals per month, as for the incumbent technologies.
Mark van der Hoek 12/5/2012 | 3:06:57 PM
re: Ericsson Pulls WiMax Plug Who said anything about denying anything to anybody? Other than a few people who have been convicted of computer crimes, everyone in this country is free to sign up for Internet service any time they wish to, nor have I heard anyone suggest it should be otherwise.

Of course, if someone chooses to live in a canyon too far out in the boonies for even dial up, and it's too deep to get a good satellite shot, he might not be ABLE to get access, but who's problem is that?

It ain't mine! Nor is is YOURS.
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